How To Build A Garage Pergola {Step By Step}

A garage pergola is a perfect way to add additional outdoor living space to your home. Not only does it provide a shaded area for you to relax in, but it can also be used as a storage area for bikes, lawn equipment, and other outdoor gear. Building your own garage pergola is a relatively easy project that can be completed in just a few weekends. We’ll give you all the information you need to understand how to build a garage pergola in this simple post!

What is a Garage Pergola?

What is a Garage Pergola

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty details about how to build a garage pergola, let’s address the elephant in the room – what exactly is a garage pergola to begin with?

You’re probably familiar with a regular pergola, which is just a structure that contains rafters and no roof and is meant to serve as a gathering place for your family. These traditional pergolas are often used for barbecues, bonfires, and other activities that don’t require a covered roof.

A garage pergola is a bit different. It’s more like an overhang than an actual pergola and it acts as a canopy, extending your garage a few feet further to shade the area underneath. 

Garage pergolas offer many benefits. They aren’t common, so not all homes or garages have them. However, there are reasons to consider building one.

For one, garage pergolas offer a level of protection from the elements. You can stand under one of these structures and get a brief respite from the rain or snow. You’ll get even more protection if you decide to include a canvas or canopy!

Garage pergolas can also cast some shade, making the area beneath a bit more comfortable when the heat index is through the roof. This also benefits your garage windows.

Less light will come in through the windows, so your garage will likely stay cooler. In return, the pergola will protect the windows somewhat so you may not need to replace them quite as often.

Finally, the aesthetics. A garage pergola will allow you to extend the living area of your garage, giving you more room to hang out and enjoy the space.

Not only that, but garage pergolas just look nice! They can attract attention to the garage and allow you to show off a particularly attractive garage or set of garage doors.

Read also: How To Build A Shed Attached To Garage

How to Build a Garage Pergola

Now that you know the reasons for building your own garage pergola, you just need to figure out how to do it. Here are some helpful tips to help you build a pergola over a one-car garage that measures 12 feet wide by 28 inches deep by 29 inches tall. 

To get started, you’ll need several 2×4 boards for your rafters – these should be 12 feet long. You’ll also need 2×2 balusters for your purlins – these should be 28 inches long. You can purchase brackets to support your pergola or you can build these, too. 

1. Mark the First Board

Begin by marking two locations on one of the 2x4s. You’ll mark at one inch and at four inches from the end. At the one-inch line, make an additional mark 1 ½” from the top line, then make a curved mark. This curve will connect the 1 ½” mark and the point where the 4” mark meets the bottom edge of the rafter. 

Use something that is round, like a paint can, to trace a perfectly rounded shape, if necessary.

2. Cut Your Tails and Purlins

Next, you will cut your tails. Using a jigsaw, follow the curved line to create the first tail. This can be used as a template to cut the rest of the boards. 

After cutting the boards, sand them all with 120-grit sandpaper. You don’t need to be too aggressive when you sand – just make sure they’re nice and smooth so that they don’t splinter.

Now you’ll cut the purlins, or the horizontal beams that run along the length of the pergola. These sit on the main rafter and help support the rest of the rafters.

Draw a 45-degree line on one of your 2x2s at about ½” from the top edge. Use a miter saw to cut at a 45-degree angle.

3. Stain/Paint Everything

Sand everything once more and then get ready to stain or paint (depending on your preferences and what your garage looks like). You can always paint later, but this can be challenging if you have to get up on a ladder to do so.

Apply one coat of paint, let it dry, then add another coat. After that dries, use a sealer to help protect the finish against the elements. Make sure you use paint, stain, and/or sealer that are designed to be used outdoors.

The video below has information on how to paint a regular pergola, but includes some helpful tips that you could also apply to a garage pergola as well:

4. Install Your Brackets

You can design your brackets for the pergola in any way you’d like – just make sure they can hold the full weight of your entire pergola. You need 2×6 brackets, at the very least. 

When you install the brackets to the house or garage apply a bit of caulk to the back. This will hold them in position while you screw. Deck screws are the best for this kind of task, since they’ll offer the most support (you can use hidden screws if you’d prefer for aesthetic purposes).

5. Mark the Rafters and Cut the Spacers 

Lay out your rafters so that they are flush on all sides. The curves should line up. Indicate a spot six inches in from each end, then draw a line over each bracket. 

Position your rafters. To do this, deduct 4 ½” (the 2x4s) from the brackets’ depth (which is 24”). Then divide by four to get an even spacing – just under five inches. Cut your spacer blocks.

6. Install Purlins

Place your spacer blocks on the rafters with a clamp to make sure the rafters are evenly spaced. Then, install your purlins. You’ll need to install about 14 of these, spacing them evenly among the rafters.

Once you’re satisfied with the way you look, you can screw them in and remove the spacers. Now it’s time to install the actual pergola! 

7. Complete Pergola 

The pergola should be installed about half an inch away from the siding of your garage. You don’t want it to rest too close but it shouldn’t be very far away, either. Make sure the pergola is centered.

Finally, screw the pergola into your brackets. You’re done!

Is It Cheaper to Build a Pergola?

Garage pergolas are small and easy to build. The materials aren’t generally that expensive, though prices of raw materials do fluctuate from time to time.

However, since they’re so small, they’re also available to buy pre-built from lots of different retailers. They aren’t outrageously priced, so choosing between building or buying your garage pergola can be difficult if you’re just looking at dollars and cents – of course, building your own garage pergola will also take more time.

That said, there’s nothing quite as exciting as the confidence-boost you’ll get from accomplishing this kind of custom DIY project on your own. Consider giving it a try if you want to really test out your skills as a “contractor!” 

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